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as officer in charge of the security detail for james meredith, the first african-american admitted to the university of mississippi, in september 1962. this is about 40 minutes. >> thank you, ralph, thank you, john. and my gratitude to the library of congress for hosting the event. i'll try to put into 30 minutes what happened to me 50 years ago with some reflection. this is my tenth book event since the book was published in september, and each event is different, each audience is different, each of the questions are different. i was a 23-year-old rotc second lieutenant from a small liberal arts college in minnesota sent down to mississippi to, along with 15 or about 19,000 other federal soldiers to put down the
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riot, quell the riot. i was not aware of where we were going because the county administration had put a clamp on disclosure. not until we got to memphis were we aware of our mission. it was such a delicate, uncomfortable effort by our military, and as i often times say, it was an army out of place. it was not our mission. military police sometimes had the mission to put down domestic disturbances, but they occurred once every hundred years or something to that effect. clearly not the mission of the marine corps who were present that morning. 19,000 troops. two units had been given advance notice of what they were doing, and they prepared for it in riot control. why all of this for one african-american student who wanted to get an education at a brand name university it's because the whole state was in an insurrection from the governors, from the statehouse
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itself down to the 11-year-old who were throwing bricks at us in the street. it was total chaos, total mayhem. even the mississippi highway patrol had pulled away, so there was your insurrection. lasted two or three days. the violent part of it. and then after that i was appointed to be the security officer for james meredith and went to school with him, or he went to school, i stayed outside with a hand-picked patrol, three jeeps, 12 soldiers, and we were there throughout the year. we transferred back and forth. the army was in place for almost a year until he graduated in august, 1963. i was 23 years old. i grew up in an all-white neighborhood in south min yapless, john -- minneapolis. a few italians, but that was pretty much it. so it was an eye opening for me. but, again, we were trained, and i am is so proud of what the
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army did. when you write a book -- this is my first -- the publisher has the say on what the title should be. i had called it mississippi morning because when we woke up, tear gas had passed, the sun had come down. it was an awakening, but it was also an awakening of the culture. the university of mississippi would never go back to its old days. but the publisher comes along and wanted james meredith to be in it. the book is not about james meredith. so often with book titles the subtitle carries the story, and it is a soldier's story. an army out of place, yes. again, they did their job. i saw pieces of violence after that first morning, but then we moved into somewhat boredom. boredom to the point that even he himself, james meredith -- an eccentric character but brave character -- sort of chafed at being guarded as we would guard him. not moving him around from point
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to point as we were advised by john door, my iconic civil rights hero and nicholas katzenbach. he was to have as much freedom as any other student. well, yes. but at the same time, there are deer hunters, and it was the season, and we had cop instant, we were constantly aware who might come up on to the campus, didn't look like a student, had a bent mind and a deer rifle, and we had to be constantly aware of that kind of threat to his life. he was a brave person. i was sitting in his dormitory room the first couple days reading the hate mail, the death threats. very accurate, very detailed. james, we know where you live, we know where your participants are -- parents are, we're going to kill you and we're going to kill your twins. he looked at me and said, lieu
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tempt, i'm late for my spanish class. let's go. that kind of courage stayed with him throughout my association with him. he never cracked, he never blinked. the students blinked. i should say that 99% of the student body went about their way getting an education. they cared little about him being on the campus. to them, it may have been an annoyance. we were the annoyance for the students. there was a handful of students who would go everywhere he went, every corner. here comes the nigger. go back to africa, you black bastard. we're going to get you. and that stayed on through october and november. but it lessened when i came back in the spring. the racial attitudes were still there. he always reminded me it wasn't just the students yelling out, it was their parents, their grandparents, the legacy of the separation of races in that state. it was there then, to a certain
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extent it's there now. fifty years later we have an african-american president, and it should not be blown up as many of the headlines the next morning said racial protest at ole miss. well, it was not. it was a group of students who didn't like the results of the election, but just a handful of them were throwing out racial slurs, screaming. so that has to be in context. ralph alluded to mississippi today. there's an education presentation, mississippi was, mississippi is. it means they've changed in a way that i think a lot of the northern press was not aware of and was not aware of the racial issue then and probably not aware now. the army had been, thank you, harry truman, the army had been desegregated to a point by the time i got in in 1962 it was flattened out. there was no -- there may have been racism back in the barracks
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and the tents, but it's not out in the open. alabama pfcs saluted black officers, took the orders from black sergeants. once we left the comfort of the army bases and the posts as we moved south, it was a different culture. that we got into. and, of course, it was a freeze frame, a photograph, a snapshot of rayism that we saw that -- racism that we saw that first morning and continued to see while we were there. so kudos to the military. they did a good job. my driver one time asked me, lieutenant, are we doing any good down here, and this was late november. and i said, well, he's still alive, isn't he? the only way i can respond to that, to a direct question. but that answer to that question was enriched and embraced 50 years later. i was in jackson, mississippi, earlier last month on the 5th
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of -- on the fifth of six book events, downtown jackson, middle class. mixed race african-american/white audience, maybe 30 or 40. i told them the arc of my story, and then we went into a question and answer period for about 20-30 minutes. a little bit of a lance armstronger room than this -- larger room that this here. an african-american woman about the second row back was fidgeting. i wound down, and i said are there any more questions? she shot her hand up. she said, yes, i want to say something, i don't know how i can say something. i said, go ahead, ma'am. i think identify got enough nerve to say it, but i want to thank you for coming. i didn't know if she meant that morning or 50 years ago. she said let me tell you my story. i was growing up in vicksburg. daddy told us to stay in the house and stay away from the windows. there's trouble out in the street, it was not a good time.
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for blacks in vicksburg, it was not a good time for blacks to be in the state of mississippi. that weekend i had faith in only two things; god and the united states army. that moment i grabbed the podium, she started tearing up. as i tried to respond, i started tearing up, and there was, obviously, a murmur of approval throughout the audience. so she stood up, pointed her finger at me, and she said thank you for coming. i came over here 50 year t -- years later to say that, and she sat down. it was worth everything. the book tour, i have a university press, they don't pay advances. i go to hotels, i pay for the air fare, pay for the hotel, pay for everything because i want to get the message out. i want to get young people to know about what happened 50 years ago. but that poignant moment answered the question that my driver asked me 50 years later:
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sir, are we doing any good down here? so i'll never forget that moment. putting a book together like this 50 years later, um, it is in the first perp because i wanted -- first person because i wanted the reader to, well, to be with me, but almost be ahead of where the protagonist is. the protagonist did not know where he was going, we were not told. the reader at least now has some idea what happened, at least until our pane arrived in memphis that morning to an airport to an air force base to a navy base that had more landings than i think o'hare airport had that morning. it was busy. the kennedy administration did not want to lose out on this one. anyway, when you're appointed to be a security officer in such a situation, you keep notes. they're blase, they're telephone numbers, names of people who
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today we call persons of interest. people who didn't look like students. every night i had to report to the fbi for anyone that might have come into oxford and checked into a hotel that didn't look like he belonged there. so i kept those notes, and then i looked at them over the years. i started this book ten years ago. and i started talking to people that were in my unit, and they provided me with anecdotes. and i looked over old newspaper sections, i looked over old magazines. started piecing things together. ken burns said you look at a photograph long enough, the photograph comes to life. the person that has a life before that snapshot and has a life after that, and you begin to, again, put things together. so you take a photograph of some of your buddies that were at the camp down there, and you start looking at it. then you make visits to the campus, and you start trying to retrace your steps. so that's what became of it, and i connected all the dots.
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and i had a lot of support. some of you are in the room here to keep pushing this thing. if i don't -- i will sign books after this event. if i don't have a familiar inscription for you, i will put down once you're done reading this book, please, pass it on to a young person. again, this happened 50 years ago, but it happened yesterday morning. racism's still there, it's still in mississippi, it's still in our society. but they have made great strides; they, the university. governor winter's institute of racial reconciliation, proud of that. bringing books, bringing people, wringing speakers to the university of mississippi. i brought myself a few people down. mark shields, a columnist here in town, went down with me three years ago, and he had an interesting comment. he said, you know, the northern liberal looked at the civil rights movement as a laudable event, noble, noble movement until that movement started
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moving north. and then the texture of the comments changed. that's pretty much my story. i don't want to tell you the story, i want you to buy the book so i can pay back some of those air fares and hotel bills. but again, it's something i want young people today to know about. racism is still there, but the army played a significant role 50 years ago, and i will never forget what that woman told me. thank you for coming. [applause] any questions, please? lionel. >> well, i actually was going to ask this question a little later because the same question that you were asked, are we doing any good here, is what i asked you in vietnam when we served there together in the late '60s.
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and never knowing of this chapter of your life. and you gave me a pretty nuanced answer. there are many shades of gray in vietnam, it wasn't black or white -- not to make a pun of any kind -- and learned a lot from you and never knew the whole time that you had done this as a young man. so i salute you and thank you for being a men or to have, try -- mentor, trying to answer that question many years later. i admire you greatly. >> thank you. [applause] please, the gentleman in front. of lionel. >> i'm wondering two things. one, why, why you decided to do the book so much later and, two, if you had any specific training in the army for this kind of duty before you went down there, or were you kind of wigging it? -- winging it? >> it took a while to write the book. i had a law practice here in washington for many, many years. i did keep notes, and i felt
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ultimately, um, that i would put it together, and i'd piece it together for a magazine article. and then it expanded, and it became what it is right now. but always behind in my mind i want young people to know, i want young people to know that this ugliness happened. and so it took a while. my brother is a writer up in new york, and he was my editor for a while. i fired him three times, and i went back with the help of my wife back into my first year legal research because i had to certify, authorize this was a piece of nonfiction, and you have to put down. i felt with a memoir you could just wig it. well, you can't because once you start highlighting things, you have to get authority for it. you even have to get a concept from people who you put photographs in, the consent of the army, consent of all -- i had a letter from james meredith right after i left which is in the book it, and i wanted to put that in. my wife reminded me, well, you
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need his permission. i didn't need his permission, he sent it to me. but he didn't send it to the world. he signed it, on the back side of the envelope he said t about time you got your book out, 50 years later. so it took a long time. yeah, it did take longer than i thought it would. but, again, piecing things together, "u.s. news & world report," saturday evening, life magazine, look magazine, all those helped me support my story, and with the story, again, of a protagonist that at no time know what was going on, but i put notes in the book so the reader knows what's going on, and the poor 23-year-old second lieutenant hasn't a clue until we fete to, until we get to mississippi and to memphis. sir, your second question, i'm sorry. >> training. >> training. >> what kind of training did you have? >> no. military police, i trained for
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p.o.w., for prisoner control, prisoners, foreign prisoners of war, our own people. taking them back and forth from the jail to court appearances, things like that. but never protecting, never bodyguarding something. so we had no starter kit. we just winged it those first couple days. and mistakes are made. you keep looking at meredith and not at the second story of a building. not at a window. you keep thinking like a mother watching its child go forward on the street. you keep looking -- well, that's the wrong thing. you don't look at your charge, you look at who might bring harm to the charge. and it's just instinctive. you look at a crowd, and you look at who's looking at us. why are they looking at us? are they planning what our schedule is? are they moving around depending on where we go? or are they looking at meredith just out of curiosity, they want to be there, a piece of history?
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so, again, training -- it was on-the-job training. has anybody in the military, in the audience here, have anybody served in the military? please, your hands? so few of us left these days. you just throw a second lieutenant into the pool, and if he survives, he survives. if not, bring on another one. they're expendable. so, again, i picked sharpshooters, i picked military policemen who were veterans and had some degree, i felt some degree of performance professionally; self-control, self-restatement, no trigger-happy, no incidences. this was an important event in the eyes of the world around these soldiers, and so luckily i picked the right ones and at an event in memphis the night before that very few units had to undergo was we were separated by the blacks. blacks had to step back the
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night before we went out the gate to mississippi. kennedy administration or justice of the army felt that the situation on the campus was is so incendiary that the snipers in the trees would have been picking out black coming in in their army units. but it was a poignant moment. 1962 blacks had found a home in the army. the large part of our leadership, noncommissioned officers were african-american. one captain was a black officer. stepped back, shamed, couldn't go to mississippi with us. by wednesday of that day, meredith looked at me and said, lieutenant, where are your negro soldiers? you surely must have some. well, i sent that line up through the command, and they brought the black soldiers down and reintegrated into us. so, but they -- i picked people in the patrol who had at least some common sense and experience, but we've never had a bodyguarding experience in
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that sense, to answer your question. please. sir. >> um, has anybody who participated in the riots ever expressed any sense of embarrassment? >> embarrassment? >> yes. >> i did not have enough time to finish what i wanted to do. i wanted to have an appendix at the back of my book. i put ads in the mccomb, mississippi, newspaper. so neutral. my name is so and so. i'm writing a book. i was sent down to mississippi in 1962 by the army, and i saw that there was a lot of emotion on the other side of no issue -- of this issue. i'd like to talk to some of you, i'd like to put your remarks in my book. i didn't have enough time. i got no response from that ad, by the way. but had i gone further, gone into alabama and georgia, sure, i probably could have come up with some of them. i'm trained as a lawyer to ask neutral questions, who, how, when, where, what.
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sir, i don't care about your racist tendencies or your view on segregation at the time, but give me your story. it would have added a bit more texture, i think, to my book. to answer your question, i think very few people have come forward in a public forum at least and expressed their views, whether they've changed their views or not. a lot of them have not. i would have wanted to have them interviewed as well. it would have helped out at the end of my book as an appendix. ma'am? >> [inaudible] meredith? there have i spoken with -- from time to time, yes. he's gone on his way. university of mississippi has gone on its way. he is an interesting character. he's written a book this last summer, again sort of revisiting why he did what he did. courageous guy. ma'am. >> fist, i want to say i commend you for writing this book. i think -- i commend you for writing this book. >> thank you.
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>> i think so often we focus on the horrible things that happen which are important to share, but i think it's also important for the people who actually did something to share their stories as well. my parents were, lived -- my family lived in alabama for generations, and my godfather was one of the, um, department of justice employees who -- >> yeah. >> and i grew up hearing their stories. >> sure. >> but i very rarely hear in a public forum individuals, just ordinary citizens talking about what they did. and i think it's important to share those stories so that we can learn from that and know that you can doing something, um, and you can make a difference, and you can, um, inform the public discourse, not just cow tail to the few or the majority who are -- [inaudible] negatively. so my question to you is do you
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know of any effort that's to, that's going on to collect the stories of people who, just ordinary people who were involved and did something? >> sure. ten years ago at the 40th anniversary there was an oral history prompt -- project for those who returned to ole miss, and they were students, faculty. so i think the repository of that written word is on the campus of the university of mississippi. and researchers are probably -- and clearly at hand for them to go through and do that. let me comment a little bit about what gets news and what doesn't get the news. my first event was here in washington two months ago at, of all places, an alz alzheimer's group. and i felt strange going into the room, but i did talk about my story. about 20 men were around the tables, and one man was agitated
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to the point because we threw some point of humor in there, and he did not like it. he said, i tell you, i was down there working as a lawyer with the radio station in jackson and the blacks and the whites. we were trying to reach some sort of meeting point, and this was the first i'd heard of it. now, of course, my mission that month was not reaching out to blacks and whites on the radio station in jackson. we had the bad guys to go after. but unfortunately, those kinds of events don't get the publicity that they should. right-minded people, good-minded, well-minded people seeking some accommodation. not unlike what happened three, four weeks ago on the election night at ole miss. one newspaper reporter had called it a race riot, racist riot occurring by the -- well, it was not that.
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anti-obama students, pro-romney students came out onto the campus and demonstrated. the right, they can do that against the results of the election, and a handful of students were screaming out racial slurs. putting that in context, then the next day three times that amount of people showed up for a candlelighter is mopeny protesting the -- ceremony, protesting the incident the night before. so mississippi was, mississippi is. it's moving on. but, yes, you're right. there's more and more that should come out and talk about it. so you can get a balanced picture that their view of the south may not be the correct view today. it's not just a bunch of rioters throwing bricks. thank you. john. >> henry, can you talk a little more about the special security
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detail that you had following, you know, your initial -- >> sure. >> -- and how were, i assume you were just chosen for that, but was there -- do you know why you were chosen for that? >> well, i'd gone through the -- >> how did it end? >> yeah, yeah, thank you. i was the lead jeep in my battalion from fort dix, new jersey, to go down to oxford. we were not prepared. i had to -- my colonel looked at me and said, do your best. no map. this was after i canned him for a map. -- asked him for a map. armies have maps. they have a map of all the park benches, fire hydrants. we did not have a map to get from the naval air station down to oxford, mississippi. do your best, he said. so i looked out. my brother had been an enlisted man in the army, and he said, you know, whatever you do as a
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second lieutenant, don't show indecision. just make an order, make a decision and move with it. so i grabbed my driver and radio operator and looked out across the, one of president eisenhower's new interstates going alongside, and i saw a phillips 66 gas station. well, there's the rest of the story. i grabbed him, went over and walked in, full battle gear, gas mask, everything else, up into this midnight on the shift midnight shift gas station, a filling station operator, can i have a map of mississippi? you know, one that just shows the little edge of memphis up here? he jumped off the school, scattered around behind the counter and gave me a map. out the door i went. so that was preparation number one. we did at least have a map in the lead jeep for 640 military policemen, 140 vehicles. at least the driver in the lead jeep and the lieutenant has a map.
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crossing into the base, i noticed that there was a shore patrolman working the midnight shift at the gate of that, and no one was coming. a few cars were coming in. i told my driver, stop, stop, let's move over and ask this navy guy how to get down to mississippi. well, we put the map out on the hood, and he had a flash light to show us. yes, sir, you go down this line here, take highway 73, you're going to get it. well, i felt okay. i got back in the jeep, and one of those things hits you. i gave him the name of gerald. i hope he reads this book or his grandchildren read the book and let him know. i went back to him, and i said, gerald, look, we're just a bunch of yankees from the north. i know you're navy, and i'm army, but you've got to help us out. yes, sir. i'll show you again. no, no, don't show me, gerald. gerald, you're coming with us. and his eyes popped out.
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he said, sir, i can't do that. i'll be awol. and besides, you're army, i'm navy. gerald, again, the voice of my brother, just make a decision. get in the jeep. under orders from president kennedy. well, military policemen, if nothing else, are trained to nudge. and my driver was bigger than gerald, so he was numbinged up into the -- nudged up into the back of my jeep. so so we raced back into the base, and 140 vehicles the headlights just looking at me ready to go out the gate. and i had that mixed emotion. i had more assurance now, more insurance on how to get to oxford, but i also felt i'd just kidnapped somebody. anyway, five minutes later, twenty minutes later we went out the gate to mississippi. and down the road met some resistance. tennessee highway patrol's colterred us up to -- escorted us to the state line, welcome to
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the mag goal ya -- magnolia state, and i was sort of looking for mississippi highway patrol. well, did not know until six hours later that they had totally walked off the performance of their duties, totally left the state of mississippi in further insurrection and the campus in further insurrection. made our way down a two-lane highway, ultimately reported to a general officer. and when you're a second lieutenant in the military, boy, you better show up reporting to a lieutenant colonel, and here was a general officer with a star on each shoulder. and he said, lieutenant, i want you to take a platoon of soldiers down to the lie see yum and put out the riots. units have been there already. then go downtown. so i did not -- i didn't want to ask him anything. it's like a chief executive officer of a corporation giving a lowly employee an order.
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you don't say, well, excuse me, sir, may i ask ask you a few questions? no, you don't do that. you just hope the executive secretary is lurking out in the hallway and can tell you about the order you've just been given. i said, yes, sir, and out the door of this little airport confine. and as i was walking back to my jeep, a lieutenant colonel or a major came up and provided me all the details. the lyceum, well, it turned out to be the major administration building for the university. so i went through a series of -- i was on a recon of three jeeps trying to get back to the battalion on the highway. we got lost, we got hit by the rioters. made my way back. went back through this backyard of this old lady who was by then four in the morning standing out screaming at us all. i had gone through her backyard with my three-jeep convoy, made it out to the highway, found the
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battalion and was ready to go back in toward the campus, but i wanted to retrace my steps, and i did retrace my steps through that lady's side yard, that side driveway. i stood out on connecticut avenue one time trying to measure how long it takes for 140 vehicles to pass one point going 14, 15 miles an hour. i think it probably took an hour for our battalion, the yankees from new jersey, to arrive in the south through that old lady's backyard. but a few minutes later, maybe an hour later i had gone over to where the command was in the army, and my colonel came out and said you're going to be the security officer for james maine at this time. meredith. and then i picked, happened picked the best i could find; sharpshooters, self-control. and we were not to be too close to meredith, we were to be 30 seconds of him. and by radio. and i've often said that we could only catch the killer, we
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really couldn't prevent harm to him because, again, he was a allowed to freely walk across the campus back and forth. so that's how the peanut -- it was called the peanut patrol. hardly something ferocious like bear or tiger, this and that. but a person came by the first day and said what are you going to call your patrol, you have to have a name for it for radio purposes. and providence college, 1961, was reading a peanuts cartoon from the local newspaper, and he said call yourself the peanut patrol. you'll be peanut one, two, three, four, and that was it. a week later the cuban missile crisis occurred, swept everything else off the news, and i read a teleframe from the pentagon that my unit would be deployed at a certain embarkation point of south carolina along with the 101st, but the peanut patrol would stay in place. so it became part of pentagon
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lore. along, a long, convoluted answer to your question, but that was it. please. >> you go to the first sergeant, you say this is, that was my assignment. please select, because they knew more than i did about their own men, and i had a whole battalion to pick from. so we were able to get some pretty good people. generally, they did their duty. nobody lost their cool. we had two, one or two close,
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close incidents thereafter in front of the cafeteria, i found out. while we hated the marshals, the deputy marshals, the civilians running around in blue suits, they had regard for us because we wore a uniform. part of the tradition of the south, patriotism first. so they didn't have -- give us too much trouble, but once in a while, once in a while they did. but it was, again, the book is dedicated to my battalion members because they were an army out of place, and they performed so well. >> what i'm trying to say, though, is i'm not sure that would be the case today. >> no. >> if the peanut patrol were born today, somebody would say the following individuals will go down under lieutenant gallagher. >> yeah. >> some guy behind a desk would decide that. >> that's right, that's right. >> you wouldn't have that same kind of dirty dozen -- >> i think you're right. >> and that's a weaknesses. >> it would be corporate.
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>> right. >> yes, ma'am. >> i don't have a question, but a comment. i grew up in pennsylvania in conservative lancaster county, but i was living in gulfport, mississippi, at the time of the incident. >> oh, yeah. >> and i learned in mississippi that i was a yankee, and it was not a complimentary term. i never thought of it being applied to me before. you know, living in the north, i just never thought about being a yankee. we didn't talk out loud very much because our accents would have displayed us asean keys, and the -- as yankees, and the tension was tremendous. so we just kept a very low profile and listened. and it was a horrible time. >> yep. if you, has anyone seen the movie help or read the book? that reflects and shows some of the culture at the time. i think president kennedy said
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why mississippi of all places, why couldn't it be georgia which had a little bit of a liberal tradition, a little, maybe alabama. but the deepest of the deep south states, mississippi. well, james meredith, you know, wasn't picked by a group, by the committee, by anybody. he just wanted to go to school. and later on the army caught up with what he was doing, justice department caught up, the administration caught up. who is this guy, what is he doing? so we had to play catch-up. very brave guy. i did not -- i was in a cocoon those six months i spent down there, so i didn't have a chance to go off campus and talk with the locals and see that, but again, there's the square, william faulkner square down in the middle of oxford. blacks sat at one end, self-segregation, whites were at the other end. i don't know if it still happens
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that way, but if you were an african-american in 1962 and you had any business to do on the square, you better be about your business quickly. go to the bank. no loitering. no hanging around talking to each other. get your job done and move on. if you tried on a hat in nielsen's department store, it was your hat. you bought it. that kind of a culture. when the army has this kind of an assignment, humor breaks out every time and thank god for the army humorists. one of our black officers says, hey, look, i'm in the front of the bus. he jumped onto the bus, i'm in the front of the bus, and i'm in mississippi! daily, daily that kind of survival humor because it was boring. it was of boring. except for those first moments of tension during the riots and then tension later on when he
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would be moving from class to class, and we would spot a car that shouldn't be there, someone dressed that didn't look like a student. but other than that, there was a lot of flat time and a lot of boredom and thank god, again, for humor. one, one new yorker said i wish that, you know, mississippi should really be like a foreign state. i mean, they should -- like canada, different license plates and cigarettes and soda pop so we can recognize -- maybe different stamps. and this was a man who couldn't wait to get back to new jersey when the plane landed, they all cussed the ground. -- kissed the ground. and he couldn't wait. [laughter] he said i knew the nightmare was not over until i saw the word "new york" on the holland tunnel. thank you. [applause] >> booktv is on facebook. like us to interact with booktv guests and viewers.
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watch videos and get up-to-date information on events. >> washington post correspondent and author rajiv command rah saken, his newest book, "little america." when you talk about little america, what are you talking about? >> i'm talking about this remarkable community that the americans built in the deserts of southern afghanistan. not in the last couple years, but six decades ago. back when unnope to most of our countrymen, there were dozens and dozens of american engineers there. this was back in the '40s and '50s digging irrigation canals, building dams. the very same terrain that president obama's troop surge unfolded in this over the past couple of years. in my history of obama's surge and my examines of it, i actually start back in the 1940s in this remarkable period of american assistance to
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afghanistan, a period of great optimism when we built this town there that the afghans started to call little america complete with a coed high school swimming pool where boys and girls would swim together, a clubhouse where you could get a gin and tonic. it was a period of great promise for the americans and afghans, and i use that as the opening for the this book that talks about the great hope and tragedy of our war in afghanistan today. >> does little america still exist? >> it does. it's the capital of helmand province, so it looks nothing like it did way back then. the tract home, white suck toe walls -- stucco walls have been sort of built over. there's no more swimming pool, and it's not quite as safe of a place as it was six decades ago, unfortunately. >> for americans, six decades is a long time, but for the afghan community, it's not such a long period. >> afghans still remember
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period. i remember going up and traveling through helmand province in 2009, and an old afghan man came up and asked me and the marine b colonel i was with whether he knew mr. and mrs. learner, and the colonel looked fud led. well, of course, the lehrer ins were the couple who taught him english decades ago, and he had a concept of the united states was a country of 300 million people, of course, we americans should know every other american. so for the afghans of a certain generation, they remember with great fondness this period of americanen gamement and -- engagement and, in fact, remember it far more fondly than they think of the current american period, the period of our stabilization activities there today, unfortunately. >> now, a vive chandrasekaran, haven't there been several starts and stops and boom and busts, hopeful periods in our history with afghanistan? >> there have.
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you know, the '50s and 60s were a period of great optimism, and then the taliban were toppled after the 9/11 attacks, there was a period of great optimism that afghanistan would be able to build a more stable democratic society, but then we took our eye off the ball as many americans know, and we focused on iraq and what that allowed was the taliban to surge back in. and unfortunately, i think what we're seeing now is a period of a real mixed bag, if you will. there has been some real gains paid for by the lives and limbs of many americans, many american service members. and we have beaten back the taliban in places. security has improved. but there are real questions as to whether any of that can be sustained l the afghan government, whether its army and police force will really be able to take the baton from american forces as today start coming home over the next couple of years. >> rajiv chandrasekaran,
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imperial live in the emerald city was about baghdad. "little america" is about afghanistan. >> and now on c-span2 we bring you booktv. on this holiday weekend, we've extended our booktv programming until wednesday, december 26th, at 8 a.m. eastern. and here are some of the programs to look out for this weekend. today at 2 p.m. eastern in light of congress discussing the so-called fiscal cliff, booktv highlights a few programs about economics. michael j. sandell, george w. bush, steve forbes all weigh in. and then at 9 p.m. craig whitney sits down with the former president of the brady campaign to prevent gun violence to discuss his book "living with guns: a liberal's case for the second amendment." watch these programs and more all weekend long on booktv. for a complete schedule, visit >>

Book TV
CSPAN December 23, 2012 9:15am-10:00am EST

Henry Gallagher Education. (2012) 'James Meredith and the Ole Miss Riot A Soldier's Story.'

TOPIC FREQUENCY Mississippi 24, Us 13, James Meredith 7, Memphis 5, Afghanistan 5, America 5, Alabama 4, Navy 3, Gerald 3, Washington 3, Meredith 3, Taliban 2, Yankees 2, Jackson 2, Kennedy 2, Oxford 2, Vietnam 2, New Jersey 2, Vicksburg 2, Georgia 2
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